Air Temple Takes New Haven Digital Program

Director’s Note:

It takes a certain group of people to be able to pull off something like a staff show. They have to be talented, obviously; hard-working, naturally; but it goes much deeper than that. We’ve had many amazing artists grace our teaching roster over the years from future Cirque du Soleil performers and Cirque de Demain competitors, but it wasn’t until this past summer, sitting on a boat with a handful of tonight’s cast that I thought ‘You know what? We should really, really do a staff show.’

I think it requires a specific, but hard to encapsulate alchemy of personalities to be able to put together this kind of a show. Creating something like this, all with people who are busy teaching and working full time jobs is no easy feat. It requires a huge amount of commitment from all parties, but more than that, it requires someone (in this case, yours truly) to want to make that commitment back to them, three or four fold.

All this to say, it’s very simple, actually–our coaches at Air Temple are incredible, and I wanted to share them with the world. They are talented, yes; and hard-working, yes; but they are also some of the kindest, and very best people I have met in my adult life. They show up for Air Temple in so, so many ways beyond their job description as coaches. I wanted to create an opportunity for all of them to create whatever they want, however they want, for one of the best small stages that I think you can find anywhere.

It’s no surprise that it’s taken 9 years to have the right staff to make this happen. Year after year, I learn more and more that so much of life actually happens much more slowly than I thought. It’s all about timing, and if you can be patient, good things will come.

To be back doing what we love, on our favorite stage, with some of the best people in the world, after almost three years is a very good thing indeed.

– Stacey Strange
Creative Director, Founder



Partner Acrobatics and Hoop Juggling
Nicholas and Stacey Strange
Music: Paper Rings – Taylor Swift

This act is about our love for each other, juggling, and circus, but most importantly our love for Taylor Swift.

Aerial Hoop
Jennifer Miller
Music: Wrecked – Imagine Dragons

This act is an exploration of the journey of grief and loss.

Clowning and Aerial Silks
Dani Bobbi Lee
Music: Polychords – Matmos

The Martians have declared Earth as unstable environment littered with humans creating and exacerbating massive problems. They file an order with the Milky Way Board of Directors to abolish Earth. Luckily, bureaucracy moves just as slow up in space as it does on Earth. One Martian still has hope that Earth and the human race can still provide goodness. Watch as they search planet Earth for human behavior that could stop the Milky Way BOD from eradicating Earth and all her beings!

Aerial Sling
Kate Gonazles-Gilligan
Music: Too Many Colors – Twin Shadows

This act is about the agony and the ecstasy of queer self-discovery.

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Chinese Pole
Nicholas Strange
Music: Pepper – Butthole Surfers

For you and I, death is defined by the loss of our capacity to sustain the physical processes that allow us to think, feel, and act. But to delve deeper into our perceptions of death we would need a better understanding of what makes us alive in the first place. Without a sharper view of why we live, we can not possibly peer into the blackness of what comes after. The implications of our persistence, therefore, are tied innately to the reality of the inverse of that state. Are we merely human shaped animals? Are we only alive due to the vital processes that our organs carry out year after year? Is it our capacity for self awareness that defines us as living beings? Is every night a death of the conscious mind until we wake? Are we projections of our personalities? If so, does death bring about the end of our individual impressions on this world. Is death a human construct? Does the soul persist?
A robot contemplates his own existence as he grapples with the very concept of a death that he will never know.

Aerial Net
Julian Salevan
Music: Arachne – Rufus Wainwright

Using a web of black netting as both subject and medium, this act spins the tale of Arachne, a talented mortal who made the mistake of challenging proud Athena, goddess of wisdom and crafts, to a weaving contest. When they finished, Athena could find no flaw in Arachne’s masterful tapestry, but the girl’s arrogance enraged the goddess, who furiously claimed victory. Humiliated, Arachne tried to hang herself in shame, but Athena took pity on her: instead, she transformed Arachne into a spider, spinning webs for eternity.


Hoop Juggling
Stacey Strange
Music: 见山是山 – 音阙诗听

见山是山(See the Mountain as the Mountain, pin: jiàn shan shì shan) is a piece in three phases based on the idiom “见山是山, 见山不是山, 见山还是山” (see the mountain as the mountain, see the mountain not as a mountain, see the mountain still as a mountain). This saying from Chinese Buddhism describes three levels of cognition and metaphorical understanding. I’m using this framework to explore artistic perception and inspiration in this act.

Aerial Moon
Crystal Cassetori
Music: Season of the Witch – Lana Del Rey

Come and join this witchy lady as she delights in her moonlit revels…. maybe you’ll be inspired to find your own inner magic.

Aerial Sling
Jillian Marchenko
Music: Alaska – Francisco Martin

This act is about the ability to create space from a situation that binds you and holds you back so that it can be viewed from the outside. This distance – the air in between – allows for it to be seen from all angles, and provides enough breathing room to finally begin to let it go.

Chinese Pole
Holly Gonzales-Gilligan
Music: You Should See Me in a Crown – Billie Eilish

This act is about taking back and harnessing your own power. Even if (or maybe because) that’s scary to others.

Duo Aerial Hoop
Kate Gonzales-Gilligan and Stacey Strange
Music: How Not to Drown – CHVRCHES + Robert Smith

It’s about damn time we did an act together.



Dani Bobbi Lee

It all started with a hula hoop in 2009! This was Dani’s portal into the circus. Since then she has studied and taught a variety of circus arts. She began aerial training at Om-Fly Circus and the first time Dani got on a trapeze she knew she had found the new love of her life- AERIALS!
Dani began coaching with Air Temple in 2018 and as of January 2021, Dani is now Co-owner and Executive Director!
She enjoys working with the youths and believes circus is a tool for positive development. Her philosophy in circus (and life) is to never stop learning and plans to be a forever be a student. The latest workshop she attended was in physical theatre with world renowned clown, Emmanuelle Delpech, exploring the two main reference points of physical theatre: Neutral Mask and Clown. Dani believes movement and comedy can be holistic approaches to freedom. She advocates that circus is a meditation, and can bring boundless opportunities to our lives. In her experience, the art of play and circus have helped her find community and love for herself and others.

Crystal Cassetori

Crystal’s aerial adventures began in 2018 when she decided to try a silks class at Air Temple Arts and never looked back! She enjoys trying any apparatus she can get her hands on, but focuses on lyra (aerial hoop) and sling. This is her first performance on aerial moon and hopes you enjoy the uniqueness of this apparatus as much as she does!

Holly Gonzales-Gilligan

Holly began ballet and tap dance at the age of 3, and still continues to learn and perform tap. Around the same young age, she began joining sports teams of all kinds, continuing through 4 years of collegiate swimming. She came across Air Temple Arts in 2015 while Googling for tap classes after moving to New Haven. She decided to try out a silks class, and finding aerials to be the perfect combination of both athletics and dance, she counts that as one of her best and most life changing decisions so far.
Holly has dabbled in a variety of aerial and circus arts over the past 6.5 years, performed in 5 Air Temple productions, and currently trains in Chinese pole, aerial sling, rope, and hand balancing. Chinese pole remains her specialty, with 2 years of additional training at New England Center for Circus Arts under her belt as well. Presently, Holly earns her living as a full time clinical dietitian at Yale New Haven Hospital, as well as Lift Wellness in Westport. She is also married to fellow cast member Kate Gonzales-Gilligan, whom she met at Air Temple!

Kate Gonzales-Gilligan

Kate started climbing on counters and people before she could walk, and baton twirled and danced her way through childhood and college. So when she saw an amazing circus show in 2013, and was approached outside the theater by a certain studio owner asking if she wanted to try circus, she said ‘Yes, please!’ Since then, Kate has trained in a variety of aerial disciplines, specializing in aerial hoop, aerial sling, and aerial fabric.
She completed teacher training in 2018, and loves not only guiding beginners into the aerial world, but also teaching intermediate/advanced students the theory they need to be able to safely find their creative expression. She is the head coach for Air Temple’s Aerial Hoop and Aerial Sling programs.
Kate has been seen performing in 6 Air Temple productions, portraying characters ranging from an evil minion to His Purple-ness, Prince; but for this show, she is portraying her favorite character: herself. She also co-directed Air Temple’s first outdoor show, Time After Time, in 2021, and served as stage manager for the touring productions Sherlock Holmes and the Sapphire Night and LOOM.

Jillian Marchenko

Jillian grew up dancing, beginning at age three. For the majority of the the next two decades she studied everything from classical ballet, to tap, jazz, and modern dance. She received professional training at the School of Performing Arts (now FineLine Theater Arts), until 2007. She continued dancing in college, majoring in Modern Dance, and graduating in 2011 with a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
In 2014, she came across Air Temple, and began training in aerial silks. In 2016 she began performing with Air Temple and has been doing so ever since, with lead roles in Sherlock Holmes and the Sapphire Night, and LOOM. During her time at UArts she discovered her passion for teaching. As a full time licensed Massage Therapist of 9 years, she also taught massage therapy for six years. Nothing compares however, to sharing her passion for aerial arts. She began teaching with Air Temple in 2018 after completing teacher training, and currently teaches hand balancing.

Jennifer Miller

The world of circus opened up for Jen at the beginning of 2018 when she started aerial classes. Training apparatus include silks, lyra, sling and straps.
The aerial arts offer endless challenges in strength, creativity and perseverance and Jen finds it so rewarding to empower others to reach for the sky. When she’s not in the air, Jen can be found teaching math at Learning Streams studio in Bethel and hanging out at home with her family.
This performance is dedicated to her Mom, who always believed in her.

Julian Salevan

Julian Salevan has been an avid performer since they were a three-year-old tiptoeing through dance classes. They studied classical ballet and modern dance for the first half of their life, acted in their high school theatre productions, led their college’s Rocky Horror cast, and sang in choirs through college and grad school (even while studying physics and engineering for their PhD!).

A dabbler in athletics as well as arts, Julian has tried their hand at everything from distance running to powerlifting. They took their first aerial hoop class at Air Temple in 2019 – since then, they’ve tried nearly every other apparatus in the studio. After years of personal flexibility practice in service of dance and aerial, Julian also began training in contortion in early 2021, taking advantage of the explosion of online courses to train with instructors across the continent. With Air Temple, they’ve joined the casts of Heaven or California and Air Temple Takes New Haven, and they performed in their first (but not their last!) open stage show in autumn 2021.

Julian began teaching after taking Air Temple’s teacher training in 2021, and they continue to pursue continuing education. They’re a total nerd when it comes to flexibility and movement arts, and they especially love to help students figure out how to work with their bodies rather than against them.

Nicholas Strange

Nick has been involved in circus arts of one kind or another for over a decade. He started riding unicycles as a way to cross train for freestyle skiing in high school, but was soon addicted to riding on one wheel just for the fun of it. Since then he has taken up juggling and prop manipulation, partner acrobatics, hoop diving, and Chinese pole as major areas of interest.

In addition to those traditional circus arts, Nick is an accomplished fire and sideshow performer. From 2009 – 2013 he was the head of Safety for Wildfire, a fire arts retreat. He studies Chinese pole at the New England Center for Circus Arts.

His past performance highlights include juggling alongside Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band, repeating (on location) a suspended straight jacket escape first performed by Harry Houdini, and entertaining audiences between sets at the World/Inferno Friendship Society’s annual Halloween shows, performing as one half of the circus duo Soviet Bloc Party, and performing in the full length shows Missed Connections, and SPECIAL RELATIVITY. In 2017 he went on tour with Circularity’s production of Sherlock Holmes and the Sapphire Night as one of the lead roles, and performed a partner acrobatics duet, hoop diving, and a solo on Chinese pole.

When not teaching or performing, Nick is putting his Mechanical Engineering expertise to good use as Air Temple’s resident rigger. He has been responsible for designing, building, and maintaining all of the points at all studio locations. In addition to studio work, Nick heads up rigging for Air Temple performances and is available for freelance rigging design.

Stacey Strange

After spending the first eighteen years of her life growing up on the edge of nowhere in Minnesota, Stacey headed east to attend Vassar College, where she majored in English and spent four years in the school’s recreational circus group.

In addition to performing and teaching, she has produced and directed a number of professional shows including Missed Connections, SPECIAL RELATIVITY: Circus Through Space and Time, and How the Light Gets In. Her shows Sherlock Holmes and the Sapphire Night, and LOOM completed New England tours in 2017 and 2019, respectively, and received critical praise.

She completed Fabric Teacher Training at NECCA in 2011, and opened Air Temple Arts in 2013. She regularly pursues continuing education and most recently completed straps teacher training in 2020 with Aaron Koz. She has taught traveling workshops across the country, as far away as California and Alaska, and has developed an Aerial Fabric Teacher Training. She specializes in aerial tissu, corde lisse, and aerial straps.

As a coach her aim is to build a sturdy foundation on great technique, with an understanding of aerial theory so that her students can unlock the ability to innovate authentically, safely, and creatively.

In 2015 she was acknowledged as one of New Haven’s ‘Rising Stars’ by Business New Haven, and featured on the national PBS program START-UP.
If she’s not doing circus, you can probably find her writing fantasy, studying Chinese, playing badminton, cooking, or practicing the guzheng, piano, or bass guitar. Or, possibly, napping.


Director & Choreographer: Stacey Strange
Tech Direction: Seth Harris
Head Rigger: Nicholas Strange
Stage Manager: Sierra Bachman
Marketing & Graphic Design: Stacey Strange


Executive Director: Dani Bobbi Lee
Creative Director: Stacey Strange
Technical Director: Nicholas Strange
CFO: Liz Cowell
Studio Dogs: Tesla Strange & Piper Lee


Seth Harris for his amazing work and being so accommodating; Liz Bissell with ECA for being a delight to work with, as always; Chris Randall for his generosity and incredible photography; Sylvie Moran for her videography and enthusiasm; The Arts Paper, and the New Haven Independent for providing previews of this show and spotlighting the arts; Laurie Kigner for being an excellent mom and Lobby runner 9 shows and running; Our Air Temple Community for being the best darn people on the planet.